Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Highbury College '£150k expenses' principal to retire

Stella Mbubaegbu Image copyright That's TV
Image caption Stella Mbubaegbu spent £356 on a lobster dinner and cocktails

A principal who spent £150,000 on expenses over four years is to retire.

The spending by Stella Mbubaegbu CBE, leader of Highbury College, Portsmouth, was reported by FE Week last month after a Freedom of Information request.

Ms Mbubaegbu described the claims as "exaggerated and unsubstantiated", attempting to paint her as a "flagrant spend-thrift", which she denied.

In a statement on the college website, Ms Mbubaegbu, 63, said she would leave at the end of July 2020.

FE Week said it spent a year in a Freedom of Information "battle" with the college, which initially refused to release the expenses details.

The Information Commissioner sided with the newspaper in a ruling published in August.

Ms Mbubaegbu said she informed governors in the summer of her intention to retire next year, adding it had been "an immense joy and privilege to serve the college".

"I am proud of my contributions to Highbury," she said.

FE Week said Ms Mbubaegbu's credit card receipts from 2014 to 2018 included a £356 lobster dinner for four, a £434 pair of headphones and a £175 chauffeured journey from Heathrow to Birmingham.

A flight to a sister college in Saudi Arabia in 2018 reportedly cost £6,202.

In May, governors imposed a £2,000 limit on her credit card "in the light of budgetary constraints".

The college recorded a £2.5m deficit according to accounts for the year to July 2018.

In March, governors reported the last pay award to staff was in January 2013.

Responding to the article, Ms Mbubaegbu said many of the items "were clearly for college use" and her foreign travel had helped attract £2.5m income from international funds.

Education minister Lord Agnew said he was "deeply concerned" by the revelations and had asked the FE Commissioner to "urgently look into this matter".

Ms Mbubaegbu has been principal since 2001 and became a CBE in 2008 for services to further education.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Highbury College has not given staff a pay rise since 2013

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